Messaging Battle May Influence the Climate Fight


It's an age old question: What's in a name? If you're involved in the climate fight, it seems, the answer is everything. A new research firm has some suggestions on global warming framing that shouldn't be missed.

In the May 1 edition of the NY Times. John Broder reported on the findings of the polling and research firm EcoAmerica. The organization found that the term "global warming" to describe global climate disruptions is actually turning people off from supporting climate action.

They suggest instead:

Instead of grim warnings about global warming, the firm advises, talk about "our deteriorating atmosphere." Drop discussions of carbon dioxide and bring up "moving away from the dirty fuels of the past." Don't confuse people with cap and trade; use terms like "cap and cash back" or "pollution reduction refund."

EcoAmerica has been conducting research for the last several years to find new ways to frame environmental issues and so build public support for climate change legislation and other initiatives. A summary of the group's latest findings and recommendations was accidentally sent by e-mail to a number of news organizations by someone who sat in this week on a briefing intended for government officials and environmental leaders.

Of course, status quo advocates are taking their own approach on messaging. Cap and trade is becoming cap and tax, implying that climate action is really just a traditional liberal scheme to increase taxes instead of an effort to slow and reverse the effects of climate change. Dirty coal is now being rebranded clean coal, even though coal is the dirtiest fuel source on the planet and the number 1 contributor to climate change. Time will tell just who will win the messaging fight.

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